The role of the provost at any university is paramount in shaping the mission, standards and culture of the institution, and the departure of Drexel’s very own Provost M. Brian Blake will certainly affect each of these spheres.
President Fry announced via a message posted to Drexel Now’s Community and Campus page Oct. 9 that Provost Blake will be leaving Drexel next month to assume the provostship at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., under the presidency of Thomas LeBlanc, one of his colleagues during his previous tenure at the University of Miami.
Provost Blake received his Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, his Master’s in electrical engineering from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and his doctorate information and software engineering from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.
The office of the provost, located in Drexel’s Main Building, is often the hub for many executive decisions regarding the university’s academic operations, including setting the agenda of different academic priorities and the allocation of funds, in collaboration with the president. This includes the decision of adding and eliminating teaching positions, approving tenure and overseeing each of the schools within the university.
In addition to fulfilling these responsibilities, among many more, Provost Blake has been at the forefront of a variety of other initiatives at Drexel, including his advocacy for the creation of the Drexel Areas of Research Excellence program and the Market-Driven Academic Program Ventures program.
The Drexel Business Solutions Institute, Center for Functional Fabrics, Weight, Eating, and Lifestyle Science Center, and the University’s first Teaching and Learning Center can all be owed in part to the work of Provost Blake. Blake was also instrumental in rolling out Dragon ‘24, an initiative that bolstered exceptional student engagement and representation in executive settings.
The provost’s office, under his tenure, was also responsible for establishing new spaces dedicated toward fostering research and collaboration in the College of Computing and Informatics, the School of Education, School of Biomedical Engineering, Sciences and Health Systems, and the College of Nursing and Health Professions. Although CoAS did not receive additional spacing allocations — despite being home to a sizable proportion of the undergraduate population — the university did undergo the acquisition of various properties and enter a plethora of partnerships.
Dr. Paul E. Jensen, the current dean’s chair at the LeBow College of Business, will assume the role of interim provost with Professor Vibhas Madan, PhD becoming the interim dean at LeBow.
Provost Blake was previously the vice provost at the University of Miami under then-provost LeBlanc, the former who has since assumed presidency at George Washington University in 2017.
LeBlanc has since announced a new innovative strategy for enrollment, a challenge faced by Drexel, which reached unprecedented levels in 2016. The effects were largely mitigated by efforts taken in part by the office of the provost, led by Blake who was also led to formulating a solution which was eventually adopted.
On a personal note, Provost Blake’s wife has family in Washington, DC. Other positions held by Provost Blake include dean for research and graduate studies at the University of Notre Dame’s College of Engineering and chairman of Georgetown University’s Department of Computer Science.